The fear of the NBA draft splitting them up for the first time in their lives would convince them to enjoy one last year together, everybody seemed to hope.
Instead, the "Twin Towers," as they've become affectionately known in Allen Fieldhouse, announced Thursday they're leaving after their junior seasons and heading for the NBA.
Born minutes apart, the forwards from Philadelphia led the Jayhawks in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots last season, when the Jayhawks went 35-3, won the Big 12 regular-season and tournament titles and advanced to the regional finals as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
"I have enjoyed my three seasons as a Kansas Jayhawk and consider it a privilege to have had the opportunity to play for coach [Bill] Self and his staff," Marcus said in a statement. "It was a difficult decision, but I feel it's the right time for me to realize my dream."
Markieff, seven minutes older and an inch taller than 6-foot-8 Marcus, said he would "always remember my time as a Jayhawk."
The brothers announced their intentions through Rival Sports Group and agent Tony Dutt, who will represent them during the draft and contract negotiations.
Raw and unpolished when they arrived, the twins matured into two of the best players of the Self Era and were part of three Big 12 regular-season titles and two Big 12 tournament championships. During their time at Kansas, the Jayhawks were 95-17 (84.8 percent).
"I am proud of Marcus and Markieff for the development and improvement they made, not only off the court but on the court in their three years here," Self said. "They have been an absolute joy to coach and performed at a level to give them the opportunity to leave and enter the NBA draft after three years. We not only wish them the best moving forward but also 100 percent support this decision for them to enter."
Marcus, a second-team All-American, averaged 17.2 points and 7.6 rebounds last season, while Markieff was an honorable mention All-American after averaging 13.6 points and 8.3 rebounds.
"As I move on to the professional stage of my career, I will always remember my time as a Jayhawk," Markieff said. "Playing here has prepared me for the opportunity to have a successful career in the NBA."
Sophomore-to-be Josh Selby is the only Jayhawk still contemplating whether to return. A 6-3 guard who missed much of the season because of injury and NCAA suspension, Selby has been in Las Vegas working out and trying to gauge his NBA interest. Self said he was in position to miss some class time and was not necessarily going out early.
While the twins' decision leaves a gaping hole in the Jayhawks' front line, it should also help Self put together his recruiting class. There was some uncertainty who would declare for the draft, leaving the coaching staff unsure how many scholarships it would have available.
Naadir Tharpe, a 6-0 point guard from Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., and highly touted 6-5 shooting guard Ben McLemore of St. Louis have already committed to the Jayhawks.
DeAndre Daniels, a 6-8 forward from Florida, is also high on Self's list, as is Braeden Anderson, a 6-8, 215-pound forward from Wilbraham and Monson Academy in Massachusetts.
"This decision was tugging at both our hearts," Markieff said. "Coach Self thinks this is a good time and we feel this is the best for us and for our family. We will always be Jayhawks and be part of this family. I would like the fans for their support over the past years. Some of my best experiences have been at KU and I'm thankful for my teammates, coaches and all the people that support KU."